Trial to assess research impact
Academics from twelve universities will participate in a trial exercise known as Excellence in Innovation for Australia (EIA), organized by the Australian Technology Network of Universities (ATN) and the Group of Eight (Go8), to assess research according to its impact rather than the number of times it has been published or cited.
The EIA trial aims to identify and demonstrate the contribution that high quality research has made to the economic, social, cultural and environmental benefit of society. The exercise will investigate the means by which these benefits may best be recognised, portrayed and assessed by institutions and government.
A key feature of the trial will be the use of industry stakeholders in the assessment process - which is usually dominated by academic experts. Whilst academic experts will play a role, they will not form the majority membership of the panels established to undertake the assessment. In addition, the research will be assessed against socio economic objectives as outlined by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, rather than the traditional Fields of Research.
In the Trial each university will be asked to provide case studies of research impact aligned to four broad SEO Sectors: Defence, Economic Development, Society and Environment.
Each case study will include details of the claimed impact, the underpinning research that led to the impact, references to publications arising from the underpinning research, research data and a list of sources that could be accessed to corroborate the impact. The emphasis for case studies will be to provide supporting information for the claimed impact that is capable of being verified if required, rather than providing verified information as part of the submission.
Each of the 12 participating institutions is being invited to submit a maximum of five case studies for each of the four SEO Sectors by the end of August.
The participating universities are:
- Curtin University
- University of South Australia
- RMIT University
- University of Technology Sydney
- Queensland University of Technology
- The University of Queensland
- The University of Melbourne
- The University of Western Australia
- The University of New South Wales
- The University of Newcastle
- Charles Darwin University
- The University of Tasmania
Philip Clark, Chair of the Education Investment Fund (EIF) Advisory Board and also Chair of the EIA Development Advisory Board, said the trial, which is aimed at demonstrating that research can be assessed according to the impact it has, was a logical next step in demonstrating to the Australian community the importance of the research undertaken in our nation’s universities.
“The traditional peer-review academic assessment focuses on what one academic thinks of another’s research and on indicators derived directly from the research” Mr Clark said.
“While that has it place, in this exercise researchers are being asked to focus on a clearly identified impact or public good and then communicate to government, industry and the Australian community how their research contributed to this outcome.
“Those of us who believe in the power of research know that there will be many stories where research from universities has delivered benefits to the Australian community through new technologies, jobs, health outcomes, increased security for Australia or by contributing to socially cohesive communities.
“I am hopeful that the EIA will be the beginning of a process whereby universities achieve a greater understanding of the outcomes that government, business and the community value and how research can contribute to these outcomes. This engagement is critical to Australia’s competitiveness in a global economy in which many manufacturing industries have moved or are in the process of moving offshore. Without the “innovation economy” that this engagement creates Australia will struggle to sustain its standard of living and maintain its place in the world.
“Integral to an innovation economy is the contribution of both fundamental and applied R&D across all sectors of the economy. In particular, with OECD figures indicating nearly 60% of Australia’s researchers are employed in the Higher Education sector it is critical that there is a higher level of collaboration between university researchers and industry, government and the community.
“This emphasis on applied research should not be at the expense of the academic excellence of our Higher Education system but a complement to it. Innovative economies are backed by universities that register highly on both scales of academic excellence and industry engagement. This is where the Australian Higher Education sector needs to be.”
The EIA will conclude with a final report publicly released on 28 November which will highlight examples of outstanding research impact and also outline learnings on the assessment of research impact.
More information is here -